Knowing your own breasts is important. You need to know how they normally look and feel, to recognize signs of changes early. This is an important part of breast health and gives you better odds of successfully treating your breast cancer, when you find the disease early.
Breast self-exams still do not take the place of regular mammograms. These tests and other types of screening for breast cancer help you find your cancer early, even before any symptoms exist.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
A new lump or mass in the breast is the most common first symptom of breast cancer. A hard mass with irregular edges that does not cause pain could be breast cancer. But some breast cancer lumps are tender, soft or rounded with smooth edges. Others are sensitive to the touch. This is why you need to tell your doctor about any lump, mass or change in your breasts and have regular mammograms according to your doctor’s recommendation.
Besides a lump or mass, other possible signs of breast cancer include:
- Swelling in part or all of your breast, with or without a lump being felt
- Skin appearance with dimples like an orange peel or other skin irritation
- Pain in the breast or nipple
- Nipple turning inward
- Nipple or breast skin changes, such as scaliness, redness or thickening
- Non-milk discharge from the nipple
Breast cancer sometimes spreads to underarm or collarbone area lymph nodes. This causes a lump or swelling in those regions. Sometimes the lymph node swelling is found before you notice any breast changes. You should always have swollen lymph nodes immediately checked by your doctor.
Be Mindful of Breast Changes
The above symptoms do not always indicate breast cancer. But some signs require communication with your healthcare team as soon as possible. Whatever the cause of your symptoms, it is always best to catch the problem early.
It is important to note that mammograms do not find all breast cancers. So continue your breast self-exams and be mindful of any changes in your breasts. Get to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and talk to your doctor if you notice any of these signs or other problems.